Friday, March 8, 2024

Newsletter in English and Spanish

I've just launched a newsletter in both English and Spanish. I'll keep posting on this blog, but if you want to get regular updates, follow me there.

Here's the first installment:

Maturity and Enthusiasm

(An introduction to this newsletter about information design, visualization, data reasoning, and many other related topics.)

In What is Philosophy?, FĂ©lix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze wrote that old age gives us “not an eternal youth, but a sovereign freedom, a pure necessity in which one enjoys a moment of grace between life and death, and in which all the pieces of the machine fit together to send into the future a message that spans the ages.”

Towards the end of 2021, despite being far from old in the conventional, quantitative sense of the word, I felt a cold breath on the back of my neck, a glimpse of death on the distant horizon. Perhaps as a consequence of that, I also had some moments of insight and grace similar to those experienced by the venerable French thinkers above. Many pieces of my machine fell into place.

In the company of many designers whose work I admire, I poured those pieces and my thoughts about them into a book, The Art of Insight (November 2023), which is a message into the future, like that of Guattari and Deleuze.

This newsletter is a continuation of that book.

It's not just that I’ve reached a certain professional wisdom (or so I hope!), but also that the profession and the language (the visual language) to which I have devoted my career have also matured. However, despite the increasing popularity of data visualization and information design, they are still niche domains. There’s much to be done for them to become widespread and democratized, which is, in essence, the core and sole goal of my career.

As I’ve said in conferences over the last decade, anyone can benefit from learning to design information. Like being able to write with fluency, knowing how to design not only makes us better communicators but also helps us think better—more clearly and deeply. Design is an aid to reasoning.

I write these lines after teaching a workshop on data visualization and information design to professors and doctoral students at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. I observed what I often see in all my classes: minds opening to new worlds, the discovery of a universe of possibilities, and the surprising realization that designing visualizations is not so complicated after we grasp some fundamentals of their vocabulary and grammar.

Teaching this type of workshop—sharing the little I know with others—is intoxicating. It excites me. I want more.

Enough rambling. What will you find in this newsletter, which I hope will have a reasonable frequency? A bit of everything: analysis of infographics and visualizations that catch my attention; recommendations and reviews of books; conversations with visualization creators; musings about the craft and about life in general...

The description of this newsletter indicates that this will be a very personal and idiosyncratic space. That’s not big news. In The Art of Insight I said that the intention of all my books, classes, presentations, or consulting engagements is not to teach how to design visualizations but how I design visualizations, my motivations and reasons to think about and create graphics in a certain way—which is not the only way. There are others.

(In the near future I will also share information about new talks and workshops that I’m putting together; get in touch if you want to learn more about them right away.)

I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I believe it will be long because it has no predetermined course or destination. Instead, let’s enjoy every instant, feeling the sun on our skins, the wind on our faces, and salt on our lips.

I conclude the first installment of this newsletter with a thought: It isn’t a bad idea to do our best to live a life worthy of a song like this, written by Sharon Robinson after the passing of her friend Leonard Cohen: